The most recent cyber-attack in Tunisia took down the website of the Ministry of Justice this morning, and a group claiming affiliation with the loose international collective Anonymous has taken credit for the action on its Facebook page.
The attack was motivated by alleged aggression on the part of the Tunisian National Guard against protesters at the Minister of Transitional Justice and Human Rights, who were protesting against neglect of the martyrs and wounded of the Tunisian Revolution.
One of the leaders of Tunisian political party and cyber-activist collective the Pirate Party, Sleh Dine Kchouk, was among those purportedly assaulted. A message on the Facebook page of Anonymous(#OpTunisia), took credit for the attack and cited the treatment of Kchouk as a reason.
Later, a person using the Facebook account of the group transmitted to Tunisia Live the following message: “The site of the Department of Justice and Human Rights has been taken offline, due to the fact that Sleh Dine Kchouk, known for his activism and dedication to Tunisia during periods of persecution and injustice, was abused, he and other injured of the revolution [sic].”
The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Transitional Justice and Human Rights are in fact separate institutions and the protest and alleged mistreatment of of demonstrators took place at the latter, not the former.
When asked why the group hacked the Ministry of Justice for events that took place at another ministry, the representative of the group’s Facebook account replied, “There is no one ministry separate from the other…They are all one.”
Zied Dredi, in charge of security at the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI), said that the agency was aware that the Ministry of Justice’s page was down and that they had been trying to contact them throughout the morning. However, as the site was not hosted at the ATI, he could not determine the cause of the interruption of service. Further investigation would have to go through the servers of the Ministry of Justice.
Mondher Bedhiafi, an official at the Ministry of Justice, confirmed that they were aware of the attack but had not yet made any decision about pursuing legal action against the group responsible.
“We have saved the documents and files necessary and will relaunch the site soon,” said Bedhiafi. He stated that the ministry would release a statement in response to the attack this afternoon.
Anonymous-affiliated hackers have recently launched similar actions on the websites of the moderate Islamist party Ennahda and the conservative Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is officially unrecognized in Tunisia. The issue of political Islam, and in particular of the role of Sharia in the constitution, has been a divisive issue in Tunisia recently, with protests for and against drawing thousands of people over the last few weeks.